LOS ALMENDROS: DELICIOUS YUCATECAN RECIPES
We had Yucatecan recipes for almost every lunch and dinner while on vacation. My favorite was "Queso Relleno," a mixture of ground pork, tomato, raisins and olives covered in warm, melted cheese and served with a thick white sauce. In English it is called "stuffed cheese." That's what I had at Los Almendros and it was delicious. Several days later I ordered it at another
restaurant, but it wasn't as good.
Los Almendros is in the Fiesta Americana Hotel &
the food is excellent.
- Historical Travel
PEREGRINA BISTRO: Great Seafood Buffet on Fridays
On Friday in Merida, our 2nd day in the city, we took the double-decker Turisbus city tour and got on and off at various places. In the afternoon we got off in the Hotel Zone and wandered into the Hyatt to take a look. We saw a very attractive bistro called Peregrina that had a seafood buffet with a long line of huge silver pots. We took a peek at some of the delicious foods inside & decided to stay. The food was fabulous and there was an abundant variety of choices. We felt as though maybe we shouldn't be eating in an American Hotel chain, but the chef at this restaurant definitely was an expert at Mexican cooking.
ALBERTO'S CONTINENTAL: Lebanese Food in Merida
Merida has a mix of nationalities represented in its population, primarily from the days of trading sisal for ropes and nets. There are several Lebanese restaurants in the city. We had dinner one night at Alberto's. The restaurant's interior decor is fascinating and beautiful. The service was excellent and the food was fair. I would recommend taking a look inside this restaurant some evening if you are strolling around, but I wouldn't say that it is the best choice for flavorful recipes.
Hotel Villa Maria: One of the best
The Hotel Villa Maria has one of the finest restaurants in Merida. We ate dinner there on New Year's Eve, and they put on a delicious prix fixe dinner. Presentation was superb, and the chef prepares scrumptious continental dishes. The ambiance is beautiful.
Breakfast is not that early here, but if you can wait until 8:00 am to eat, you'll be fine.
Dining is available either in the central outdoor courtyard (which has a retractable cover for inclement weather) or in the air-conditioned dining room.
Favorite Dish: The wine list is varied and good, and Hotel Villa Maria, in my opinion, made the best margaritas in all of Merida.
We also at breakfast here twice. Everything was delicious. On the top of my list was their coffee (yes, their coffee is wonderful), their yogurt, and sweet bread (not sweetbreads, but bread with a sugar topping). They had many other breakfast dishes as well, egg dishes, omelets, and other breakfast dishes. This was a very good way to start the day.
- Food and Dining
- Historical Travel
We ate at a number of restaurants in Mérida over two or three days, even stopping at the Burger King (something we seldom do) for a quick hamburger when we were on a deadline one day. I am going to mention a couple by name.
We met a friend in Mérida, and decided to meet at the brunch buffet at the Hotel Villa Mercedes. It is an amazing brunch with everything one could desire. There were enough different dishes that I filled a dinner plate by taking one bite-size bit from each of the dishes. The other thing that made it pretty special the day we visited is that the hotel had a "two breakfasts for the price of one deal", so the price for the two of us as 180 pesos. Pretty reasonable – I would recommend the buffet, especially at two-for-one. Villa Mercedes seems to be a pretty elegant hotel (5 star by Mexican standards, probably less by USA standards). The hotel is about 10 long blocks north of the Grand Plaza downtown.
We had a VT meeting with Gatopardo (Zarahi) at the Café Peon Contreras in downtown Mérida. The most outstanding thing about this restaurant was it's location – on the plaza outside Parque de la Madre. They also had a couple of musicians playing in the background. As for the actual food, it was similar to that we had seen in prior restaurants – tasty, but not gourmet. The meal at Peon Contreras was pricey compared to the other places we tried in Mérida. The cost for two meals (including a couple of drinks) was 370 pesos; in most other restaurants we tried, this cost would be under 250 pesos.
We ate at a number of other restaurants. One of the pluses of this area of Mexico is that prices are quite reasonable. Most meals are well under 100 pesos ($10 US) per person. For the starch portion of our meals, we had to get used to tortillas instead of potatoes but the food was quite tasty.
- Budget Travel
ELADIO'S: In Progreso, On the Beach
Eladio's is in a perfect location on the beach near the malicon. It has plenty of floor-to- ceiling windows that slide open letting in the sea breeze. It's very easy to find, in fact, you can't miss it. The food is good, not great, but good. And when we were there on a Saturday afternoon, they had a live band. It was very enjoyable.
Favorite Dish: Many restaurant have delicious little round "homemade" warm chips for salsa dipping.
Alberto's: Heavy and dark
All of the guidebooks recommended Alberto's, so we ate one dinner there. When will I learn not to trust guidebooks? Alberto's is considered to be one of the best restaurants in Merida. I'm sure they try, but the food was mediocre, even their middle eastern dishes that they made such a big deal about, the regional dishes were sparse, the decor was heavy and pedantic, and the prices were too high. They had very few options for vegetarians, but the same could be said for many restaurants and cafes in Merida.
The other red flag I saw as soon as I sat down was all of the patrons were obviously tourists, with most being from the USA.
I wouldn't go back. I'd recommend exploring the smaller, local cafes and restaurants that are not listed in the guidebooks.
Favorite Dish: The Turkish coffee was good - just like what I had in Bosnia-Hercegovina.
- Historical Travel
Street vendors in Plaza Grande: Marquesitas!
Marquesitas are a Merida specialty. If you travel to Merida, you must try these. You'll be hooked. I understand that a family in Merida invented the marquesitas. The street vendor attaches everything he needs to cook marquesitas to his mustard colored 3-wheel bicycle (common mode of transportation in Yucatan). You'll find the stands in the Plaza Grande (mainly in the evening) and possibly elsewhere in Centro Historico. On New Year's Eve, a long line of them had been set up facing the Cathedral.
The vendors are easy to find. Before you see them, you'll hear them cheerfully calling out "Marquesita!"
Favorite Dish: How to describe a marquesita? The vendor cooks them in a two-sided crepe maker with waffle design over a propane flame. It is like a crepe, but soft when hot and crunchy when it cools. It is filled with either Edam cheese or Nutella sauce, and rolled up into a tube. So ask for a marquesita queso or a marquesita nutella - I couldn't decide which one was best. They cost only 10 pesos each.
They are so delicious, we ate them every night, even when we didn't think we could eat any more. I would love to be able to duplicate them, but as simple as they sound, I don't think I can do them justice without the right equipment (including the bicycle).
- Historical Travel
- Food and Dining
MAYALAND TERRACE DINING: MAYALAND, NEXT TO CHICHEN ITZA
Mayaland Resort offers beautiful outdoor and indoor dining rooms. There are four or five on the grounds. We had breakfast on the terrace before going into Chichen Itza and after touring the ruins, we came back to Mayaland's main dining room for lunch. The food is excellent.
These peahens walked leisurely around the deck to pick up the crumbs that diners dropped.
Amaro: Regional cuisine
I have to tell you straight out -- it is not easy being a vegetarian in Yucatan. Most dishes are made with beef, chicken, pork or fish. In several restaurants, maybe only one item was vegetarian, and it was something boring like a cheese quesedilla.
One exception was Amaro Restaurant on Calle 59 near the Plaza Grande. They had more vegetarian items than most restaurants and even promoted themselves as having vegetarian food.
The setting is nice - an outdoor inner courtyard with lots of plants. We ate lunch here and enjoyed it enough to come back for dinner on our last night. Unfortunately, service was terrible on our second visit. It was fine until we got our main course. That came out at 8:00 pm. No wait staff person visited our table to refill our drinks, take away our plates, offer us dessert, give us water, present the bill until 9:30 pm. At that time they gave us the dessert menu but did not come back until 10:00 pm. Instead of ordering dessert, we said we needed to go, and they acted kind of surprised. Perhaps the evening meal is slower in the Yucatan than we are used to in the US.
Favorite Dish: The food was tasty, but don't expect spicy food. I liked the papadzules, which were handmade corn tortillas filled with roasted and ground pumpkin seeds, topped with a pumpkin seed sauce and a tomato sauce and finally a crumbled hard boiled egg. My family like the pollo pibil, and popular Yucatan dish of chicken marinated in achiote paste and baked in banana leaves.
I'd give the restaurant a higher rating if the service had been better.
- Historical Travel
- Food and Dining
Cafe La Habana: Cuban Style Coffee House
On the days we needed an early start, we headed over to Cafe La Habana for breakfast, which is open 24/7. This is a very nice diner with excellent food (including some regional cuisine) and frequented by many locals. The Cafe roasts their own coffee and sells beans by the kilo, too.
Favorite Dish: Everything was good - the omelets, the hot cakes, the fruit/yogurt/granola, and my favorite, the queso fundido. Here it is made the way it should be - plain and simple unadulterated gooey cheese, with nothing else mixed in and served with handmade corn tortillas.
The fresh squeezed OJ was excellent. The American coffee was bland. Order instead the Cafe Cubano (thick, dark and strong served in a demitasse cup - kind of espresso but different), or the delicious Cafe Habana (Cafe Cubano with frothy milk - kind of like a cappucino, but different).
- Historical Travel
Hotel Hyatt Regency Restaurant - Peregrina Bistro: Yucatan cuisine
We have been told that Yucatan food is its own unique style and is very different from what most people consider "Mexican" food. It includes influences from the local Mayan culture, as well as Caribbean, Mexican, European and Middle Eastern cultures.
When having dinner in the restaurant of the Hotel Hyatt Regency Merida, I’ve tried Xcatic Cream with Crab and Grilled Salmon with fresh orange juice. It cost me 315 MEX=$30.
At Hyatt Regency Merida you can enjoy breakfast from 6:30 am to 12 noon and daily buffets at Bistro from 1 pm to 5pm.
You may also have a dinner at Spasso Restaurant with its original cuisine forms 6 pm to 2 am.
You can watch my 5 min 25 sec Video Merida Hotel Hyatt in the morning out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
Eltrapiche: Eating good Mexican food
Normally I do not do restaurant reviews, but after spending time in Merida in 2005 and 2006, we enjoyed this restaurant every time we visited. It is just local fare.
For English only speakers like us, eating at this restaurant is a bit of an adventure. None of the staff speak English. But as you can see from the third picture, the specials of the day were 28 pesos (well under $3US). And as you can see from the second picture, the food looks (and tastes) pretty good.
La Casa de Frida: Do you know Chiles En Nogada?
La Casa De Frida is totally inspired in the famous radical paint-artist Frida Kalho, the colors and decoration reminds you of the gorgeous taste of her art-work, the music is a plus when they have musicians invited for special moments or just enjoying with wonderful mexican singer Lila Down.
The Food, ask for a Chile en Nogada, it's an exotic mexican dish originaly from Puebla, the recipe's history says it was made by nuns with locals ingredients, nowadays it might have few variations. But the flavor is the basicaly the same.
Poblano Pepper, sweet fruits, raisin, nueces, granada, etc...Green, white and red.. They are vegetarian or meat..
There are some other dishes in a prefered menu, just pick any, they are good.
Make your reservation. It opens from Tuesday to Saturday from 7 to ...the last to leave.
Favorite Dish: Roasted Poblano Peppers stuffed with ground meat, chopped fresh fruits, almonds and raising, all covered with pecan sauce and scattered with pomegranate seeds.
Vegetarian Style also...
La Bella Epoca, Merida: La Bella Epoca, Merida
Get one of those few tables set up on the little balconies overlooking the Parque Hidalgo (and the main road...) on Calle 60. Great to people watch, listening to the strolling minstrels and the live fire-eaters, jugglers etc that set up just across the road. Informally formal inside and pleasant enough.
Favorite Dish: The food is no better or worse than many good quality restaurants - Mayan Mexican